Many people make the argument that other countries in the international Special Operations Forces community have publicized the activities of their units regularly in the last ten years. This argument is made under the assumption that all Special Operations Forces units are identical, and that every country's situation is the same. In fact, there are different groups or tiers within the international Special Operations Forces community, and strategic-level counter-terrorism forces such as JTF 2 normally operate under strict security guidelines.
The Canadian Armed Forces have been open and transparent about the accomplishments of its Army snipers, its Pathfinder courses held at 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton and the Canadian graduates of the U.S. Army Ranger Course. In other countries these qualifications might be part of their Special Operations Forces units, but in Canada, they are embedded in our conventional combat units. Some countries that appear to have provided more open access to their Special Operations Forces units also have larger militaries, and are able to showcase people and equipment without compromising their most sensitive capabilities. For example, there are more than 52,000 people in the U.S. Special Operations Command, while there are about 67,000 effective strength members in the CAF Regular Force.
For reasons of national security the CAF does not discuss the details of JTF 2 organization, capabilities or activities.
The Government of Canada authorizes the overall missions and tasks undertaken by JTF 2, at all times. The unit is the responsibility of the Commander Special Operations Forces Command who is accountable to the Chief of the Defence Staff. The Chief of the Defence Staff is accountable to the Minister of National Defence who, as a Minister of the Crown, is responsible to the Prime Minister of Canada.
The term "joint task force" is used for any force made up of two or more elements of the CAF. For example, the headquarters for Operation Apollo, Canada's military contribution to the international campaign against terrorism, which commanded units from Army, Navy and Air Force personnel operating in the Persian Gulf area from October 2001 to October 2003, was called Joint Task Force South West Asia.
Since members of JTF 2 are recruited from all elements of the CAF, the unit is considered a joint force. The "2" designation simply distinguished it from other CAF joint forces in existence when the unit was formed.
Like all Canadian Armed Forces units that have participated in the international campaign against terrorism, JTF 2 has been very successful in its operations. JTF 2 has earned Canada a very proud reputation among its coalition partners for having a world-class Special Operations Forces capability.
Just like other Canadian Armed Forces units, JTF 2 must be prepared to deploy worldwide. However, as a Special Operations Forces unit, they have specialized tasks in comparison to conventional military units.
Dwyer Hill Training Centre is a CAF training facility where JTF 2 conducts its training and selection.
JTF 2's soldiers perpetuate the proud tradition of Canadian Special Forces dating back to World War II. Although several members of JTF 2 served with the Canadian Airborne Regiment during their career, today's JTF 2 is very different from any other CAF unit that preceded it. It has a rigorous training and selection process for modern-day operations, and a very unique role designed to counter modern threats to Canada.
JTF 2 was created on April 1, 1993 when the Canadian Armed Forces accepted responsibility for federal counter-terrorism operations from the RCMP. Prior to the creation of JTF 2, the RCMP's Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) was responsible for federal counter-terrorism operations. Since its creation, JTF 2 has evolved, and this evolution is continuous. The threat of terrorism comes from an elusive, sophisticated and determined enemy. In order to maintain an edge on its potential adversary, JTF 2 is continuously developing new capabilities, technologies, and tactics.
JTF 2 has established itself internationally as a Special Operations Forces unit. It has done so over its history because of the outstanding quality and ability of its members, its proven operational effectiveness and its stringent operational security policy. This reputation has allowed JTF 2 to develop strong relationships with its allied Special Operations Forces counterparts, relationships built on trust and confidence. These relationships assist JTF 2 in providing the best possible counter-terrorism defence for Canada.
JTF 2 is comprised of assaulters and supporting members, all of whom are Canadian Armed Forces personnel. All members are carefully screened for service in the various elements that comprise JTF 2. It is, however, the Special Operations Assaulters who undergo the most intense selection and training for eventual service in the fighting arm of the unit.The standards established for selection and employment with JTF 2 are scientifically designed and validated at the Canadian Armed Forces Dwyer Hill Training Centre in order to ensure that the members selected will be capable of accomplishing all tasks assigned to the unit. These standards are not just limited to physical abilities. High standards are also required for professional skill sets, integrity, psychological profile, mental aptitude, discipline, and maturity. These standards are not just used for selecting new members, they are maintained throughout the unit and are ingrained in the JTF 2 ethos.